Friday, 6 November 2015

The Forgotten 6th Battalion

Saturday 6th November 1915: Corporal A W Nightingale of the 6th Battalion has spoken with us about the letter from a member of the 6th Battalion suggesting they had been forgotten by the press [22nd October]: “Forgotten? Surely not! And yet it seems so sometimes. We are one of the first regiments [sic] formed on mobilisation – i.e. most of our fellows came up during the month of August 1914 and when we read in the paper we get out here occasionally in the fighting line, of what is being done for those lucky fellows in newly-formed battalions we wonder why we have been allowed to miss these little marks of appreciation on the part of our fellow town and countrymen”.

“Not that we are in any way forgotten by the Military Authorities. On the contrary, everything has been and is being done to make our life as enjoyable as possible. It is difficult, no doubt, for the people at home to conceive a correct notion of what life out here is like but I can assure you it has its variations. At one time you find yourself knee-deep in mud and water with the rain drizzling down upon you in the trenches, at another time you are resting, or rather working a mile or so behind the actual fighting line, with occasional football matches and such amusements between times to take away the monotony and gloom which comes into our lives through continuous separation from our home life in the old country”.

“Nor are we without pride in our own achievements. We have been the recipients of congratulations from H M King George and also from Lord Kitchener and General French on the splendid way we are carrying out our share in this conflict, and other expressions of praise which are no less gratifying to us, and help to stimulate our efforts to prove a valuable link in the line which has proved itself to be up to the present unbreakable”.

“You would not find a more cheery set of fellows than there are in our battalion if you searched the whole of the allied armies through. I cannot say much about the German temperament, and I guess ‘uns suffers from an abrupt change of feeling when we meet, but they appear to be much more fed up than the German Emperor would care to acknowledge. If you could for a moment take a glance at our fellows in their fur jackets you would smile. Wrapped up in these they look like Eskimos, but withal they are a happy band of pilgrims and are making good progress, which is appropriate for representatives of Bunyan’s famous haunts”.

“We have started on our “leave” programme and with the proverbial patience of Job we shall all hope to get away home before our children’s children are obliged through old age to come and meet us in bath chairs and crutches. I hope that when you are thinking of the newly formed battalions of the Bedfordshire and other regiments you will spare a thought for those of us who have already tasted the glories of “warfare”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 22nd November 1915

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